Medical supplies like elastic bandages have several uses that help to treat acute or chronic health issues. These can include support for muscle sprains, swelling, injury or wound care. Elastic bandages are used in a variety of circumstances, and depending on your specific needs, Medicare benefits may help cover the cost.

Clinical Definition of Elastic Bandages

Elastic bandages, which can also be called compression bandages, are made of stretchable material that may be self-adhesive or held closed by clasps. Depending on the brand, they can be made of a combination of elastic rubber, cotton or polyester fabric.

Because they are commonly used to wrap joints such as a wrist, shoulder, elbow or knee, these bandages are available in a variety of widths to accommodate the need for flexibility and comfort. They can be purchased at a desired standard length or customized by cutting them to an appropriate size.

Some elastic bandages are only suitable for single-use applications while others may be washable and reusable. Your specific needs will determine which type of bandage works best for you. Because some elastic bandages may contain latex, Medicare recipients with a latex allergy should look for or request latex-free bandages.

When to Use Elastic Bandages

Minor injuries such as muscle and joint sprains or strains require compression and support in order to heal properly. Elastic bandages serve a primary function when treating these conditions.

Certain surgical procedures or wound care circumstances will require a bandage wrapping to prevent infection or protect absorbent materials beneath the bandage. If the bandage material has not been pretreated with an antimicrobial or antibacterial solution, it may be necessary to change it more frequently in this situation to prevent build-up or odor.

Chronic conditions that involve swelling or require regular support also rely on elastic bandages as part of their treatment. In these situations, the style of bandage should be assessed for appropriate firmness, flexibility and closure. Your doctor may recommend a specific style designed to treat your needs.

Cost of Elastic Bandages

As an over-the-counter medical supply, elastic bandages can vary in price depending on brand, material, width and length. Choosing generic alternatives to name brands may provide an opportunity for significant savings.

Bandages provided at a surgical or clinical visit may serve a specialty purpose and therefore cost more than store-bought options. Speak to your doctor about the most appropriate type of bandage and if affordable alternatives may be available.

Medicare Coverage for Elastic Bandages

Medicare recipients may have the costs of their elastic bandages covered through Medicare if they are supplied during a surgical or wound care procedure at a hospital or outpatient facility. Certain diagnoses that require specialty bandages, such as a venous stasis ulcer, may also qualify for coverage. Any copayments or deductibles that apply to the overall costs of any services or procedures will still apply.

In general, bandages needed in the home for a first-aid application or to treat minor injuries are not covered by Medicare. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers an over-the-counter allowance that includes first-aid items, it may be possible to cover the cost of elastic bandages through those Medicare benefits. Contact your Medicare Advantage plan provider to help you navigate your exact coverage options.

Related articles:

What is Medicare?

New to Medicare